Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the world’s No 1 maker of advanced silicon, reported better-than-expected profit as global companies from carmakers to PC suppliers scramble for chips. Net income for the January-March period climbed 19% to NT$139.7 billion ($6.5 billion), versus the average analyst estimate of NT$136.2 billion. Gross margin for the quarter eased to 52.4% from 54% in the three months prior, due in part to relatively lower levels of utilisation and exchange-rate fluctuations.

Surging demand for the chips that power Apple Inc’s iPhones, smart televisions and connected cars has thrust TSMC into the centre of a global supply chain crunch that has idled auto plants and fueled a shortage of popular consumer products like game consoles.

While Taiwan’s largest chipmaker has kept its fabs running at “over 100% utilisation”, the firm does not have enough capacity to satisfy all its customers and it has pledged to invest US$100 billion over the next three years to expand.

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